Featuring a vast open bog, beautiful sunsets, and fantastic hiking trails, Lake Bemidji State Park is a popular RV destination for those seeking recreation and relaxation. Located on the north end of Lake Bemidji, the park is the remnant of the last stage of glaciation in Minnesota. As the ice melted some 10,000 years ago, rock, gravel, and soil were deposited to create the landscape in the park. An interesting fact about Lake Bemidji State Park is that the landscape is not fixed; it continues to slowly change due to the impact of erosion and shoreline wave action.
For hundreds of years, the lands in and around the park and lake were inhabited by the Dakota people and their ancestors. They hunted and fished around Lake Bemidji until Europeans moved to the region and began to log the park in the late 19th century. The Minnesota state government purchased the land, and in doing so, preserved a few remaining areas of beautiful old-growth forest. The park was officially opened in 1923 and consisted of 421 acres, but has expanded over the years and now covers 1,600 acres of stunning natural landscape.
Recreational activities are abundant year-round at Lake Bemidji State Park. The lake is ideal for boating, paddling, swimming, and fishing, but you can also go hiking and biking on the park's almost seven miles of trails. Once the snow falls, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing are very popular. There are 95 RV-friendly camping sites to choose from, including 43 electric sites that have a 30-amp connection. No matter what time of year you visit the park, you're going to have an RV vacation to remember.
Lake Bemidji State Park is located in central Minnesota on the north end of Lake Bemidji. The park is around five miles from the city of Bemidji, which is the largest commercial center between Grand Forks, North Dakota and Duluth. Besides Bemidji, there are a few other small towns located not too far from the park, including Birchmont, Wilton, and Blackduck.
The terrain when approaching the park is quite flat, and there should be no obstacles. Once you reach the entrance to the park and the campground, you may have an issue with overhanging trees if you are coming in with a big rig. Since the park is so forested, there are many tree branches that could cause damage if not properly navigated.
The largest lots are located near the Marina and Park Office. Smaller lots can be found near some trailheads and other points of interest.
Enjoy the multiple award-winning Bemidji KOA campground, surrounded by acres of forest and 60 nearby lakes to explore. Fishing and water sports are easily accessible, as are trails, woods, and wildlife. RV sites feature full hookups, cable, Wi-Fi, and some patios. The campground itself offers restrooms and showers, laundry facilities, a seasonal pool, a pavilion, a Kamping Kitchen, a computer connection-site, a community campfire, recreational facilities, a dog run, a store, a snack bar/café on the grounds, bike rentals, and planned activities.
The campground at Lake Bemidji State Park offers a wide variety of choices for those traveling in an RV. In total, the campground has 95 drive-in sites, including 43 electric sites that have a 30-amp connection. Four of them are pull-through sites, and there are also four handicapped-accessible sites. This campground can host rigs up to 50 feet in length; however, due to the number of trees, it can be difficult to navigate an RV around 38 feet or longer because of the many overhanging branches. If you think you will have trouble, you can ask the park ranger for help, and they will direct you to the most accessible site in the campground.
The campground has some great facilities, including water collection points, flush and vault toilets, hot showers, and a dump station. You can also access free WiFi at the nearby park office, which is a luxury that not many state parks offer. The sites in the campground are mostly shaded, and some are very private. Each site comes with a fire ring and a grill as well as a picnic table.
The campground is open in winter; however, only one site is available to drive-in, and it is non-electric. Other sites are available on a walk-in basis after deep snow cover, but make sure you check out the forecast to see if the conditions are worth making the trip.
There are four cabins available, two that sleep six, and two that sleep five. Cabins have electricity and heat, a screened-in porch, and a picnic table. However, there is no water or restrooms. Vault toilets are available within walking distance, about 700-800 feet away. Cabins have fire rings right outside where you can sit by the fire or cook your food. You'll need to bring your own sleeping bag or linens. No tents or RVs are allowed on-site. Cabins are open year-round.
Although reservations are highly recommended, unreserved sites may be rented on a first-come, first-served basis. During the winter, your chances of finding an unreserved spot improve unless you are hoping for the one RV site still open during winter months.
Lavinia Group Campground can accommodate up to 50 people. This site has 50-amp electric service for five RVs or trailers and can also house several tents. Water is available at this site as well as fire rings and picnic tables. A dump station and restrooms are nearby. Dump station and flush toilets are available from May to the middle of October, but vault toilets are available year-round. Only walk-in tent camping is open at this site after snow covers the ground.
This site hosts up to 30 people in a tent-only site. Primitive camping at this site includes vault toilets, fire rings, and picnic tables. The site provides shade, but water is only available in the parking lot.
Lake Bemidji and the surrounding forests offer some fantastic environments for birds. For the bird watching fans, you will have hours of entertainment and enjoyment as this area is the hub of bird watching in Minnesota. The varied natural landscapes provide homes and habitat for a wide range of birds, including warblers, woodpeckers, hawks, flycatchers, and the yellow-billed cuckoo. Group bird watching events are also held throughout the year, so make sure to check to see if any will be happening during your stay.
Like the majority of Minnesota, Lake Bemidji State Park transforms into a winter wonderland once it starts to get cold. The high snowfall creates many accessible winter recreation opportunities at the park. For cross-country skiers, there are 11 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails. If you would like to do some snowshoeing, you can rent some in the park.
Whether you want to ski or snowshoe, you'll find a trail perfect for your fitness level. Some trails are relatively flat, and others offer more of a challenge with some hilly areas. Advanced skiers and shoe-ers will want to try some of the steeper trails for an excellent workout. Take advantage of the warming house at the park office to rest up and hit the trails again.
Throughout the year, the Nature Center at Lake Bemidji State Park is open for guests to peruse information about the park's trails, animals, and geology. There are also some interesting exhibits, films, and slide programs available for you to look at. Check out the Nature Center if you want to learn more about the history of the park and the wildlife that calls it home. A complete list of programs can be found at the park office or the center itself.
When the snow gets deep, winter adventurers can head to the park for some cold-weather fun. Lake Bemidji State Park has a three-mile, groomed snowmobile trail that connects to longer trails outside the park, as well as some ungroomed areas where snowmobiling is allowed. The trail has flat areas as well as rolling hills and a few turns that will thrill winter enthusiasts. Stop in the warming house at the park headquarters and get a cup of coffee before heading back out in the cold. Camping is possible, but sites are limited once the snowfalls. Make sure to check the snow depth and conditions before heading to the park with your snowmobile.
Along with the Nature Center, you can also learn more about the park through interpretive programs. These programs run during the summer include morning hikes, boat tours of Lake Bemidji, campfire talks, and evening films. During the winter, snowshoeing, candlelight skiing, and animal tracking are all programs in which guests can participate. These programs are offered from Wednesday through Sunday from mid-June through Labor Day. The fall, winter, and spring programs are usually only offered on weekends.
During the warmer summer months, hiking in and around Lake Bemidji is a great way to see the natural landscape of the area. A great inclusion is that there are two miles of ADA-friendly trails, the Boardwalk and Rocky Point Trail, so everyone can have the opportunity to hike. Take the Bog Walk Trail to see a host of beautiful flowers in full bloom in May and June. This trail is also popular for birding. There are also 15 miles of moderate hiking trails that will take you through lush forests with hardwoods and white and red pine. Make sure to pack your hiking boots in the motorhome for this camping adventure.
No matter whether you are a seasoned angler or a beginner, Lake Bemidji State Park will be a great place to cast a line. The lake is one of the top fishing destinations in all of Minnesota and is connected to a system of lakes, including Lake Irving upstream and Stump Lake downstream on the Mississippi River. ADA-accessible fishing can also be done at the park, thanks to the fishing pier that is located on the bank of the lake.
Common species caught on the lake include walleye, bass, muskie, perch, crappies, panfish, and trout. Take your catch back to the camper for a nice fish dinner with the family. Guests over 16 years of age will need a Minnesota fishing license but check with the local fish and game division for rules and limits within the park.
Boating is always a fun choice at an awesome lake like Lake Bemidji, but paddling has really taken off at state parks and reservoirs around the country. Stand-up paddleboards are extremely fun ways to relax, get a little wet, and enjoy the scenery around the lake. Canoeing and kayaking continue to be favorites among water lovers and adventurers. Have a peaceful float while soaking up some summer sun or race your friends in a paddling competition in your kayak. If you don't have your own, you can rent canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards right inside at the Marina.